News / Africa

South African President Pressured by Corruption Report

FILE - South Africa's President Jacob Zuma delivers his State of the Nation address at Parliament in Cape Town, Feb. 13, 2014.
FILE - South Africa's President Jacob Zuma delivers his State of the Nation address at Parliament in Cape Town, Feb. 13, 2014.
The corruption allegations surrounding South African President Jacob Zuma have prompted the National Assembly to take action.
And observers say Zuma’s problems may translate into losses by the African National Congress in South Africa’s parliamentary elections in May.

National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu announced on this month that he is appointing a committee to look into a recent report by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.
That report said that Zuma “improperly benefited” from the use of state funds to upgrade his private residence, Nkandla. The 12-member parliamentary panel has been given until April 30 to issue its findings.
The Public Protector’s report said the equivalent of $23 million was spent on “security upgrades.”
Among other things, a swimming pool and an enclosure for his cattle were constructed.
“Some of these measures,” the report said, “can be legitimately classified as unlawful, and the acts involved constitute improper conduct and maladministration.”
Former U.S. Ambassador John Campbell, now at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, said the pool has become a symbol of the president’s excess.
“The justification for it,” he said, “is that the swimming pool provides a water source that could be used – in other words, you could pump water out of it – to fight a fire. Most South Africans, if the ‘blogosphere’ is any indication, simply don’t buy that as an explanation.”
Campbell’s observation is backed by Gareth Newham, an analyst at the independent research organization Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria.
“Various surveys show that at least two thirds of South Africans believe that he benefited unduly in his personal capacity from taxpayer’s money,” he said, adding that these surveys also show that people believe “that the money [spent] was excessive. It wasn’t spent correctly.”
David Lewis, executive director of “Corruption Watch” in Johannesburg, agreed.
“The point is that he is using the presidency of the country for his personal gain,” Lewis said. “And the answer in the Nkandla scandal “is that yes, he does not appreciate the distinction between public resources and his private gain.”
Zuma issued a statement on April 3 saying that he is awaiting the results of a parallel probe by South Africa’s Special Investigating Unit before responding to questions about the expenditures.
Already, a report from an inter-ministerial committee has cleared the South African president of wrongdoing.
But in Newham’s view that report lacks credibility.
“This is an internal report,” Newham said, “an investigation headed by his various ministers who are directly implicated in these unethical and illegal expenditures. And, they cleared themselves, and him.”
The Nkandla controversy isn’t the first for Zuma.
His financial advisor, Schabir Shaik, was sentenced in 2005 to 15 years in prison for bribery in connection of to the South African Navy’s purchase of new ships when Zuma was deputy-president.
Zuma himself was also charged with corruption and relieved of his duties by President Thabo Mbeki.
After rounds of legal maneuvering, the charges against Zuma were dropped in April 2009, clearing the way for him to run for the presidency. Zuma’s future hinges on the outcome of National Assembly elections.
Campbell said a shake-up may be looming ahead.
“At present,” he said, “the ANC has about two thirds of the seats in parliament. If the ANC’s percentage drops below 60 percent, then some commentators think the ANC might remove Zuma as the party leader.”

Jeffrey Young

Jeffrey Young came to the “Corruption” beat after years of doing news analysis, primarily on global strategic issues such as nuclear proliferation.  During most of 2013, he was on special assignment in Baghdad and elsewhere with the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).  Previous VOA activities include VOA-TV, where he created the “How America Works” and “How America Elects” series, and the “Focus” news analysis unit.

You May Like

Germany Celebrates 25 Years of Unity

October 3 is a public holiday, marking the day in 1990 when East Germany and West Germany reunited More

Analysts: Russia's Syria Strikes Shake Regional Powers

If Moscow bolsters Assad, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries may feel obliged to step in More

Video Innovative Nano-Tech Water Filter Prevents Disease

It can absorb contaminants like copper, bacteria, viruses and pesticides, says Askwar Hilonga, who has been successfully trying out his product in Arusha More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Philemon M from: Malawi
April 15, 2014 3:53 AM
No wonder,his conduct in his regime has caused RSA economy to be surpassed by Nigeria.the best thing to do is to step down.

by: max ajida from: pretoria
April 14, 2014 10:07 AM
The only best thing Jacob Corrupt Zuma can do is to step down. But he can't do so because he knows once he steps down will be an easy prey. And those who protect him like Blade Nzimande won't do so. For him to invade jail ,he has to remain in power. He so dull that he publicly said ,"he didn't know what was happening at his own compound thinking people will beleave in him. Nzimande the faithful servant of Zuma is trying to mudy the Public Protector's report by calling it "white lies" . These people were so vocal calling the national to live and practice the legacy of late Nelson Mandela while they were doing the opposite.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs